Wizards

Quick Links

Tomas Satoransky is ready to embrace his positional versatility like never before

satoransky-wizards-magic-usat.jpg
USA Today

Tomas Satoransky is ready to embrace his positional versatility like never before

As he enters the third season of his NBA career, two things stand out to Tomas Satoransky in his approach to this particular campaign that may differ from years past. 

One is that he has learned by now he is not entitled to or assured of anything when it comes to his role in the Wizards' rotation. The other is that he is ready to fully embrace playing positions other than point guard, a directive the coaches and front office have given him over the past year.

The first lesson was instilled the hard way, through having an inconsistent role the past two seasons. In 2017-18 alone, he went from being the third point guard, to the second point guard, to the replacement starter for John Wall, to watching the team sign multiple point guards as free agents before the playoffs; in which he was essentially replaced by Ty Lawson, who had last played in China.

All of that happened within one season, despite the fact that Satoransky had thrived at times in each spot, including as a starter.

The Wizards' point of view

The Wizards clearly wanted to see more from him last season and he took that to heart.

"That's what these two years have taught me, never be sure of your situation or position," Satoransky told NBC Sports Washington. "On the other hand, I feel very confident now. I also feel confident knowing how things go and how I can be patient when I'm not playing. I still have to work hard, which I do every time. But I feel confident knowing everything and there is a big difference coming into something where you have no idea what's going to happen."

The Wizards explained their decisions to bring in other point guards, a process which also included trading for Tim Frazier last summer and signing Ramon Sessons in March, as not an indication of Satoransky's shortcomings. Instead, they wanted him to develop at other positions and use his athletic 6-foot-7 frame in other ways.

Head coach Scott Brooks even mentioned this after Wednesday's training camp practice.

"Tomas, he is very versatile. He can play a lot of different positions on both ends of the court. We have to use that," Brooks said.

Satoransky's personal versatility

Satoransky has long insisted he is more natural at point guard, where he grew up playing and where he made a name for himself overseas before joining the NBA. The Wizards hoped he would occasionally play shooting guard and small forward, but despite improving his off-ball skills like spot-up three-point shooting, Satoransky never fully got a grasp at either position last season.

This year, Satoransky seems not only more prepared to play at those positions, but perhaps more willing. Not that he wasn't eager to play off the ball, it's that now he seems a bit more thrilled about it.

"With the depth and everything, I'm not trying to focus on one specific position. I'm trying to focus on how I can help other players trying to play good together. With the second group, we can be very, very versatile there. I'm looking forward to it," Satoransky said. 

"I like to play with Jeff [Green] already. I can see that. He's very smart and great at pick-and-rolls and slipping [off of them]. Austin [Rivers], I haven't practiced with him yet, but I know what he can bring to the team. I'm actually excited about that, playing with versatile teammates and being able to play different styles."

The good news

If Satoransky can find a way to succeed with Rivers in particular, that will be great for the Wizards and also Satoransky's future. As the star player turns 27 in October, he is entering a contract year and the biggest threat to his playing time at backup point guard is probably Rivers. If the Wizards decide to tighten their rotation and rely more heavily on Wall and Bradley Beal, Rivers could cut into Satoransky's role, as he can also play point.

The good news is that the Wizards do not have another primary backup point guard on the roster. At this point last year, they had both Satoransky and Frazier. Right now, Satoransky is slotted to be the No. 2 guy.

It's a good situation for him on paper, but Satoransky doesn't count anything as guaranteed.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

What famous NBA Achilles injuries can teach us about John Wall’s recovery

What famous NBA Achilles injuries can teach us about John Wall’s recovery

This week is Wall Week at NBC Sports Washington. We are rolling out content each day centering around the Wizards' five-time All-Star point guard. Today, we examine how other NBA players have recovered from a ruptured left Achilles...

Wizards guard John Wall is now roughly seven months into his recovery from a ruptured left Achilles, which by most historical measures means he is more than half-way through his rehab. The Wizards, though, have indicated he could miss all of next season. If that scenario plays out, he is only about a third of the way towards returning to action in an NBA game.

There has been a wide variance in recovery times for ruptured Achilles injuries in the past. Most players have taken about 10 to 11 months off. But the time of recovery hasn't necessarily correlated with how successful a player has been once they returned.

Some of the best success stories have involved players returning in 10 months or less. Some of the worst-case scenarios have involved players taking a year or longer.

Here is a breakdown of some of the more notable cases of NBA players tearing their Achilles, including the time they took to recover and how they played following their return...

Kobe Bryant

When: March 2013, Age 34
Recovery time: 240 days
Before: 25.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.8 apg, 45.4 FG%, 33.6 3PT%
After: 18.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.9 apg, 36.6 FG%, 28.5 3PT%

Given he was 34 at the time of the injury, it was predictable Bryant would not return as the same player. Most interesting as it pertains to Wall, though, may be the fact Bryant returned to play only six games the following season. He could have sat out the entire year, but chose to play a handful of games even though the Lakers were en route to a 27-55 finish. Wall and the Wizards may have to face a similar decision in the spring of 2020.

DeMarcus Cousins

When: Jan. 2018, Age 27
Recovery time: 357 days
Before: 21.5 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 46 FG%, 33.8 3PT%
After: 16.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 3.6 apg, 48 FG%, 27.4 3PT%

Cousins is a guy Wall will likely lean on throughout his recovery, as he just went through it. The two were college teammates and remain good friends. Cousins, though, is not exactly a success story. Though he returned to play well for the Warriors last season, he subsequently tore his quad and then his ACL. Whether those injuries are related to the Achilles tear is not clear, but the whole saga is something Wall would certainly hope to avoid.

Dominique Wilkins

When: Jan. 1992, Age 32
Recovery time: 283 days
Before: 26.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.6 apg, 46.9 FG%, 29.7 3PT%
After: 21.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.2 apg, 43.9 FG%, 33.9 3PT%

Wilkins may be the best testimonial for recovering from Achilles surgery. He suffered the injury in his 30s and 27 years ago when sports medicine wasn't as advanced, yet he came back to make two more All-Star and All-NBA teams. He also did so after taking fewer than 10 months off. Wilkins later said this of why he was able to return at such a high level:

“When I came back, people had their doubts, they said I was done and my career was over, but I came back and had my best all-around season of my career,” Wilkins said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “It just depends on the person and how driven they are.”

Wesley Matthews

When: March 2015, Age 28
Recovery time: 237
Before: 14.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 44.3 FG%, 39.3 3PT%
After: 12.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 2.4 apg, 39.6 FG%, 36.8 3PT%

Like Wall, Matthews is a guard and he tore his Achilles at the age of 28. He suffered the injury in March and returned in time for the start of the next season. Fewer than eight months had passed before he was back in an NBA game. Though that could offer optimism for Wall, Matthews hasn't quite been the same player, at least statistically. His efficiency numbers have dropped off.

Rudy Gay

When: Jan. 2017, Age 30
Recovery time: 273 days
Before: 18.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.3 apg, 45.2 FG%, 34.5 3PT%
After: 12.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.0 apg, 49 FG%, 36.8 3PT%

Gay offers one of the best examples of a player who has returned from an Achilles tear. Though he hasn't scored at the same volume that he once did, he is a more efficient player now and a key component of a good Spurs team. Gay has adjusted his game now that he isn't the high-flyer that he once was. Wall may have to evolve a bit himself, depending on how the injury affects his speed.

Chauncey Billups

When: Feb. 2012, Age 35
Recovery time: 296 days
Before: 15.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 2.9 rpg, 41.6 FG%, 38.9 3PT%
After: 6.2 ppg, 2.2 apg, 1.5 rpg, 36.5 FG%, 34.1 3PT%

Billups' Achilles injury happened so late in his career that he could have retired, yet he decided to come back to play two more seasons. He only managed to play 41 total games those two years and didn't log nearly as many minutes. The hope with Wall, also a point guard, is that his relative youth will give him a better chance of returning to All-Star form.

Elton Brand

When: Aug. 2007, Age 28
Recovery time: 243 days
Before: 20.3 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 50.5 FG%, 15.4 3PT%
After: 10.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 48.9 FG%, 0.0 3PT%

Brand returned to play eight more seasons, but was nowhere near the same player. He was a bit undersized for a big man to begin with and losing a step didn't help. The ominous sign to take away from Brand's recovery is that he was 28, the same age as Wall. And he later explained exactly what was missing when he came back:

“I didn’t have the same explosiveness that I had. … I didn’t have it. I had to change my game a little bit where I jumped off two feet, and I was a little bit slower," he said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Brandon Jennings

When: Jan. 2015, Age 26
Recovery time: 339 days
Before: 16.6 ppg, 6.2 apg, 3.2 rpg, 39.1 FG%, 35.1 3PT%
After: 6.9 ppg, 4.3 apg, 2.3 rpg, 36.3 FG%, 31.6 3PT%

Jennings was an exciting score-first point guard in his 20s when he suffered the injury, just like Wall. And Jennings ended up having a recovery that was on the longer side, as Wall expects to have himself. But unfortunately for Jennings, he was never the same player again. He appeared in only 143 more NBA games (23 with the Wizards in 2016-17) and most recently played in Russia. Jennings lost a step and couldn't adjust his game properly to compensate.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura dunked all over Argentina in FIBA friendly

Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura dunked all over Argentina in FIBA friendly

Rui Hachimura dunked all over Argentina Thursday in an international friendly ahead of the 2020 FIBA World Cup.

The Wizards' first-round pick is representing Japan in the FIBA World Cup that starts later this month. In a tune-up game for that tournament, Japan played Argentina in a friendly and, well, Hachimura had a day. He had 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but one of the highlights of the day was this steal and breakaway dunk from the rookie.

The other highlight? Another Hachimura dunk.

View this post on Instagram

SHEESH, @rui_8mura! (via @japan_basketball)

A post shared by Washington Wizards (@washwizards) on

Argentina went on to beat Japan, 108-93, but Hachimura's performance was promising. The FIBA World Cup starts on August 31. Hachimura hopes to, and likely will, represent Japan at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: